Cannabidiol or CBD is a phytocannabinoid naturally found in cannabis plants (hemp, marijuana, etc). It can be taken in many ways. You can consume it orally or vapor it. It is even available in aerosol form i.e., in the form of sprays.
CBD is becoming more popular each day, thanks to its multi-faceted benefits. It is well known that CBD can help to relieve pain, reduce anxiety and stress, and may even help with cancer-related symptoms and has many more potential uses.
Whatever may be the way or process to get CBD but to use it, first we have to extract it. But to use it, first we have to extract it. CBD based products mainly use CBD oil to make their products. Whatever may be the products like capsules, vape oils, gummies, etc, the main source is CBD oil. We are here to answer a very important question- ‘How to extract CBD?’.
Reasons for extracting CBD oil
Consuming hemp won’t be a party in your mouth. It’s quite unpleasant and you won’t find it among other veggies in the grocery store next to your home.
When taken in its raw or uncooked form, hemp is devoid of any CBD. It does not contain CBD. It mainly contains CBDA(Cannabidiol acid) which is different from CBD we are talking about. So the results will be different from what is expected.
CBDA needs to converted into CBD to enjoy its benefits. CBDA has to be chemically altered to CBD by application of heat. This process is known as decarboxylation.
It is the extraction process which helps to isolate CBD and make it suitable for human use. It removes contaminants and other undesirable constituents(like wax, lipids, microbes, etc) which might not be good for health. It gives control to set the concentration in the right amount to boost the effectiveness.
Before the extraction process to begin, there is a need to choose the right candidate. The ‘right candidate‘ means choosing the right plant for this. A plant that can yield a viable amount of the oil. Hemp is mostly used for this purpose.
Though marijuana contains a higher amount of CBD, it is generally not preferred because of the presence of a high amount of THC (a psychoactive substance). Hemp, on the other hand, contains only 0.3 percent THC. This makes it right for procuring the CBD oil from it.
How to extract CBD oil?
There are many ways to extract CBD oil. It may be solvent-based technique, distillation, or CO2 extraction technique. Many of these methods use some solvent to dissolve the active components present in the hemp. This can be further processed to refine the obtained oil.
Let’s go through all these methods one by one.
We will start with simple techniques that can be done at home to industrial-grade techniques.
1. Olive oil Extraction
Now let’s dive into ‘How to extract CBD using olive extraction?’.
This is a very effortless yet reliable way to get CBD oil. People have been using this to obtain oils for a long time. It is the safest and the cheapest way to obtain your oil. So simple that you can perform this in your home.
This requires minimum resources and equipments. You only need your kitchen skills and utensils like jars. It is super easy too.
First, you need to decarboxylate the cannabinoid presents in the hemp. As earlier discussed raw hemp contains CBDA, not CBD. In short, to activate the compounds we need to heat or cook the hemp to a specific temperature for some time i.e., 100 minutes at 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
The next step is transferring the plant into the olive oil. You can use a jar or container with a proper lid.
Boiling should be done for a proper time. For example, heating at the minimum temperature i.e., 200 degrees Fahrenheit you need to boil for about 3 hours. While heating at 248 degrees Fahrenheit you only need to boil for about an hour.
So you need to consider two key things in mind. Choose the temperature and then boil for the specific duration.
Another plus point is that you can choose your carrier oil. Instead of olive oil, you can use coconut oil or any other oil of your choice.
If you want to learn more about this process, you may click on our page dedicated to explaining it in a brief and beautiful way – ‘How to Make CBD Oil at Home‘.
Just like Solvent extraction, this process does not give you any control over its content. Hence not opted for professional uses. Due to its simplicity, this process is always good for personal purposes, and if you rely on homemade products.
2. Dry Ice Extraction Method:
It is also one of the methods, that can be safely done at home. But it will consume a little more time and effort than the above method.
If you want to go for this method then you will require a few more tools and stuffs like:
- Safety gloves and glasses
- A paint scraper or putty knife
- Dry ice (about 3 Ibs)
- Plexiglas or a mirror
- Any Container
- 3 bubble hash mesh bags (sizes are 73, 160 and 220 microns)
- 3 Glass jars
Do not ignore the safety gear like gloves and glasses. Just chop the plant finely like you chop the parsley and put it in a container. Then cover it evenly with dry ice and let it sit for like 3 minutes. This will help the trichrome resins to freeze.
Then shake the container by covering the mouth of the container for 4 minutes. This will knock off the frozen resins.
Then keep the container inverted on the Plexiglas. You have to use the different mesh bags to filter out the plant bits out of the container manually. You can do so by shaking for some time. Each mesh bag should be used one after another.
Then you can take out the hash off the Plexiglas. Put this in one of your jars.
Just redo the whole process using the other mesh bags. You will get three different strains of extracts.
Generally this process yields more than olive oil extraction. But its quality is subject to your efficiency. Like you might shake it a bit longer and ruin the quality.
It is a very cheap and simple process. It has higher efficiency than the above methods and collects the desired components present in the hemp readily.
3. How to extract CBD using Solvent Extraction Method?
This process is quite a simple method too. It is just soaking followed by evaporation. Not only the process but the apparatus required are also rudimentary and cheaper.
This extraction method uses alcohol as a solvent. The most preferred solvent is ethanol – a low-grade alcohol. Though other solvents like butane is also used sometimes. But is generally avoided as it can be irritating to the lungs.
This process involves adding the alcohol to the plant. Done either through running the solvent through the plant matter(leaves, flowers, etc) or by soaking them.
This will dissolve all the essence from the plant. The obtained liquid is evaporated away to leave behind the CBD oil.
First the plant trimmings are taken in a flask or container. Then a suitable solvent is poured into the plant materials. After some time when all the essence is passed into the solvent, the obtained solution is taken away for evaporation and refining.
This method might seem perfect but has some shortcomings too. It requires extra care and experience to use this technique. Evaporation must be done with care due to the high inflammability of the alcohol. Any mistake can lead to serious injury(no one wants an explosion!).
When it comes to quality, the oil can contain some chlorophyll (the green pigment found in the plants). The solvent used in the process absorbs chlorophyll along with the other components.
This gives the oil a green color and a mild bitter taste. There is very little control over its contents.
Apart from chlorophyll, other contaminants can also be present in the oil. If the process is done properly it can be harmful to its user. So it has to be done by someone experienced who knows how to handle the chemicals.
4. How to extract CBD using Steam Distillation Extraction?
This method is an upgrade to Solvent Extraction. It provides better results compared to the other process discussed. Just like Olive oil Extraction, this process has been used for centuries. In this the plant is distilled to obtain the oil.
The pressurized water vapor is passed through the hemp plants via an inlet to get a mixture of water vapor along with essential oil.
This gaseous mixture comes out through the outlet to the condenser. The captured vapor is condensed here. Finally, oil is separated from the water by distillation of the mixture of oil and water.
This process helps with you the quality issue. There is no chlorophyll present in the oil. It is free of other contaminants also.
Though this process has been tried and tested and gives good results, but it some downsides too. This has low efficiency. A large amount of hemp is required to produce oil. This can be lead to reduced profits.
Besides that, it also has risks involved due to the use of high temperatures. The chemical properties of the oil can change due to unchecked temperature. This in turn can drastically affect the quality.
5. How to extract CBD using Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction?
It is the best method for CBD extraction. It is an advanced, highly optimizable, and customizable compared to all other methods. Moving on to how to extract CBD using CO extraction.
This process utilizes supercritical carbon dioxide to extract the oil. Supercritical state means that carbon behaves like both liquid and gas.
The extraction involves a chain of pressurized chambers and pumps to put CO2 through tremendous pressure and low temperature. This is then passed through the hemp at multiple temperatures and directions to dissolves all the required compounds like cannabinoids.
Steps involved are:
- The first two chambers are under intense pressure. One of them contains CO2, and the other holds the plant materials.
- The content of the first chamber which is CO2 is pumped into the second chamber. Here role of supercritical CO2 comes into the picture. It acts like a sponge to absorb and isolate the oil from the weed.
- This mixture is pumped into the next and last chamber. The gas is evaporated and CBD is left behind in its pure form.
This process requires complex machinery and quite an investment. Despite this process has gained popularity among companies because of its quality and efficiency. The oil can have concentrations as high as 92 percent – which is pretty high as compared to other methods.
Another good thing about its good control over the contents unlike other ways of extraction. Since the concentration is directly linked to specific temperature and pressure, it can be used to control the concentration. Just need to fine-tune the temperature and pressure of the chamber for regulation.
Which is the best method of extraction?
Undoubtedly, CO2 Extraction is the best way to acquire your CBD oil. It may be very costly and requires complicated machinery but it provides the best quality and potent oil which is free from impurities with huge efficiency.
Its controllability is just icing on the cake. No wonder why preferred by companies for mass production. If you ask what’s the best way to obtain oil for professional and industrial use, then the answer is yes.
While other methods may not provide high quality oil but are simple and cost-effective. One can always go for the Olive Oil Extraction or Dry Ice Extraction. If you like to do a little experiment and don’t bother much about very fine quality.
So, this was our journey glancing through various ways to procure CBD oil. We got to know about different processes, the steps to follow, and also ‘dos and don’ts’. Some of these were good for personal application – easy and can be prepared at home.
While one of these was simple but was suited more for experienced ones i.e., solvent extraction. It was too risky to be done by yourself. The last one was complicated and quite expensive. Out of scope for any individual to try them on their own.
We are sure that you gained some insight into some of the most common ways to acquire CBD. Which one of the methods did you like the most? Which one of these touched your heart? Please share your thoughts and instincts on this.
If you are curious about different CBD intake options then you can move the cursor to read our article on CBD Oil vs Tincture vs Vape vs Capsules.